A local pharmaceutical distributor is warning that prescription drug wastage by patients has become a disaster in the medical sector in Barbados.
Following a meeting today with Ministry of Health officials and other stakeholders in the pharmaceutical business, Chief Executive Officer of All Health Inc, Paul Gibson, expressed grave concern that some patients were failing to comply with their doctors’ advice and were hoarding medication for months.
Gibson, a former president of the Barbados Pharmaceutical Society (BPS), said the situation was adding to Government’s already spiralling health care bill and pushing up the number of people who need hospitalization.
“Barbados at this time needs to ensure that wastage is managed. And even though the [drug] formulary committees over the years have done such a tremendous job in ensuring that Barbadians get the best therapeutic classes and that the standard of drugs being delivered is raised and that they are reviewed, it is very critical that when Barbadians take drugs home that they don’t put them in the cupboards and that they don’t leave them and give them to their friends,” Gibson warned.
The distributor said he knew of situations where people had been storing “months and months” of medication.
He is worried that on the one hand health authorities were working to provide good drugs and on the other, there was the issue of non-compliance.
“To me, that is one of the biggest disasters that we are having in our medical system right now where if people were taking their medication, there would be lower expenses for the Government of Barbados and there would be less hospitalization because you would have better management of the NCDs [non communicable diseases] and so on,” the former BPS president stressed.
He also suggested that the patient acts in tandem with the ministry in its efforts to improve drug quality, supply and cost.
“We want to get it out there that Bajans need to take this thing very seriously. It is very expensive, it is very serious and you can add value by making sure you are compliant and managing your pathology in a better way,” Gibson said.
While Director of the Barbados Drug Service Maryam Hinds could not put her finger on the true extent of the problem of wastage, she said officials counsel the patients on the proper use of their medication.
“I know that the HIV/AIDS programme has a very good method of monitoring how they are taking their medication and if they are taking their medication. I would try to do that with patients, we ask them questions. Sometimes they themselves would tell you, ‘don’t you fill this, I have this,’ but it is difficult to estimate the exact figure to say ‘this is the amount of drugs or the cost of drugs that is being wasted,’” Hinds said, while acknowledging that a problem exists.